Sundance 2015 Review: Adventageous

Posted by | Posted in On The Big Screen | Posted on January 28, 2015

Cast of Adventageous
By Kim Voynar
Voynar@moviecitynews.com

In the exquisitely crafted film Advantageous, director Jennifer Phang (Half-Life) explores a not-too-distant future where technology has advanced to the point that the need for human workers is diminishing. Consequently, only those with the most desirable attributes, highest connections and right looks have a shot at success, while the rest are presumably relegated to the rungs of the unseen lower classes. Jacqueline Kim, who also co-wrote and co-produced, plays Gwen Koh, the popular spokesperson for the Center for Advanced Health and Living, whose comfortable life with her daughter and confidence in herself are shattered when the Center decides that the beautiful-but-40ish Gwen is too old to be the branding face of their youth-preserving technology.

At the same time, Gwen’s daughter Jules (Samantha Kim) is hoping desperately to be accepted into one of the most prestigious schools; the pressure is immense, and Jules’ entire future depends upon which school she gets accepted into – and whether her mother can afford to give Jules the advantages she needs to succeed. Gwen’s position on the social ladder, already precarious in an tech-based economy when women are being told to stay at home and leave the jobs for the men, is further jeopardized when a recruiter informs her that there’s an unspecified “flag” on her resume from a former employer that’s preventing her from getting another job. Desperate to provide her daughter the advantages she will need to survive, Gwen agrees to become the first “client” for the Center’s newest youth-enhancing procedure, the details of which Phang keeps deliberately vague until near the end of the tale, making Gwen’s situation that much more poignant.

It can be a dicey proposition to weave social commentary into a narrative story without crossing the line into storytelling as agitprop, but Phang and Kim handle the issues their script addresses with a careful hand. It’s surely not coincidental that it’s the women in Phang’s future world who take the brunt of the economic impact of technological advances on the job market resulting in fewer jobs for human beings. It’s her view of the social value of women being tied inexorably to youth and beauty, though, that’s painfully pertinent in a year when the dearth of women receiving Oscar nominations has been of note, along with things like Gamergate and outspoken, intelligent women like Lena Dunham and writer Lindy West being attacked almost daily through social media with alarming vitriol.

In Phang’s imaginary future, it’s pretty much the same-old, same-old: As men grow older and wiser, they morph into handsome “silver foxes” without losing stride on the career or social desirability fronts. As women grow older and wiser, though, their perceived worth diminishes while those aging men chase after younger, newer versions to upgrade to. Phang’s tale imagines a reality where a woman could choose to “upgrade” herself to a younger and thereby more desirable version. You don’t have to be a woman working in the film industry to relate to (or fear) such a thing, though Hollywood is perhaps closer to the future we see here than anywhere else and, sadly, populated by a lot of women who would quite likely line up around the block to take advantage of it.

Script-wise, Phang and Kim do an excellent job here of honing things down to the marrow of the theme without much superfluous flotsam getting in the way of the storytelling. Phang as a director excels at the art of “show, don’t tell,” and she’s clearly directed her actors to follow that lead; the broad strokes of the story structure are inked in black here, but it’s the performances that flesh out the bones of that story with the deeply moving, layered performances that emphasize the complexity of these characters and, by extension, ourselves. Jacqueline Kim as Gwen emotes the quiet strength and determination of a mother determined to protect her daughter no matter the cost, and in later scenes when she’s holding back revealing the full truth to her daughter, the agony of her decision reads in her face like a blurry road map to a mother’s heart. Samantha Kim (no relation) is by turns sweetly plaintive and filled with adolescent fury as the daughter who doesn’t understand the sacrifice her mother makes for her until it’s too late. Ken Jeong surprises here with an excellent, quietly dramatic turn, and Jennifer Ehle as Gwen’s boss, who’s in charge of the Center’s latest technological miracle, delivers a nuanced performance that walks the line between being slightly sinister and genuinely sympathetic to Gwen’s plight.

It’s worth noting that the special effects in Advantageous that set the tone for a near-future world are quite well done, particularly for a sci-fi film that presumably didn’t have a huge Hollywood budget. Much like Phang’s previous film Half-Life, or one of my other favorite indie sci-fi films, Shane Carruth’s Primer, a lot of thought was clearly given to how to define this world and this technology on an indie budget without looking cheap; there’s no duct tape under the hood showing here. The technological advances shown here are, for the most part, maybe next or perhaps next-next generation, which smartly avoids any need to get too fancy with the props and SFX. Phang plays this more as a human story than a technological one, keeping her story tightly lensed on her characters as they navigate this world where humans are increasingly redundant, skewing the supply-demand that determines who gets in and who’s out, and it’s so well done that I’m still thinking about this film days after seeing it. Through this mother and her daughter, proxies for any of us, she asks us to ponder what about us defines our individual worth and humanity.

30 for 30 Shorts: Student Athlete – Reggie Ho

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on January 07, 2015

From: http://grantland.com/features/30-for-30-shorts-studentathlete/
Click the link for the film.

Our latest film, from actor Ken Jeong, tells the story of how a 5-foot-5 premed student played a crucial role in Notre Dame’s undefeated football season
by Grantland Staff on January 7, 2015

Welcome back to our 30 for 30 documentary short series.

Reggie Ho never dreamed of playing football in college. Growing up in Hawaii and of Chinese descent, he always imagined he’d be a doctor like his father. He enrolled at Notre Dame as a premed student and didn’t think much of playing football until he decided he needed a more well-rounded life. He was the placekicker on his high school football team and decided to walk on to Notre Dame’s. At 5-foot-5 and 135 pounds, Ho was one of the smallest players in a major college football program — and suddenly became a celebrity on and off campus. As a walk-on, Ho didn’t receive any financial support from his school: a pure student-athlete. He did it for the love of the game and for the love of Notre Dame. After the 1988 season, the walk-on walked off the field. Ho continued his premed degree, but no longer played football. Yet he was a crucial part in Notre Dame’s most recent undefeated season.

Olbermann Appearance – Stuart Scott, Reggie Ho

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on January 05, 2015

Ken Jeong Gets Daughter’s Perspective on Penguins of Madagascar

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on November 25, 2014

Video Bombing Kevin Shea at Flappers Comedy Club

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on November 01, 2014

Killing Hasselhoff Interview

Posted by | Posted in On The Big Screen | Posted on October 31, 2014

Ken Jeong Dives Into Celebrity Death Pool Pic For Hyde Park, WWE Studios

Posted by | Posted in On The Big Screen | Posted on October 31, 2014

From Deadline.com

EXCLUSIVE: The Hangover‘s Ken Jeong has signed on to star in a comedy currently known as Untitled Celebrity Death Pool, to be co-produced by Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, and WWE Studios. Jeong will play a struggling nightclub owner in debt to a loan shark who sets out to win his long-running celebrity death pool by offing his chosen celebrity: David Hasselhoff.

The Hoff himself is aboard to co-star and also will produce with WWE Studios President Michael Luisi, Hyde Park’s Amritraj, Michele Berk, Patrick Hughes and Warren Zide. Wrestling icon Hulk Hogan also has signed on for a role. Diary Of A Mad Black Woman helmer Darren Grant is directing from a spec script by Peter Hoare. It’s the latest collaboration between WWE Studios and Hyde Park, which pacted last year on the Dwayne Johnson film adaptation of The Fall Guy, a rare comedic venture for WWE Studios. Eric Gardner will executive produce and Hyde Park International will handle foreign sales.

As with its previous film properties, WWE Studios will leverage its multi-platform network to promote the film.
The LA-based production arm of wrestling megabrand WWE first dove into features in 2002 and has been placing its ring stars on the big screen since in such films as The Scorpion King, See No Evil, The Marine, and 12 Rounds. The company has been branching out of late, joining with Relativity and Blumhouse on the TIFF horror pic Oculus and pacting with Lionsgate on a six-film action deal. They also collaborated with Warner Bros. Animation on March’s co-branded animated feature Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery.

WWE Studios’ Bradley Buchanan negotiated the Celebrity Death Pool deal with Hyde Park Entertainment’s Allen Babakhanloo. Jeong, who is filming Universal’s Ride Along 2, is repped by CAA and Aligned Entertainment. Hoare and writing partner Chris Lilli have sold pitches to Comedy Central and have buddy comedy Everybody Wants Head set up with Sentinel Pictures and David Permut. Hoare is repped by manager Kailey Marsh and Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson & Binder, LLP.

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Ken Jeong to Star in MTV Comedy Pilot

Posted by | Posted in On TV | Posted on October 31, 2014

From The Hollywood Reporter

His casting lifts the contingency on the pilot, from young writers Andy St. Clair and Paul O’Toole, which will now be titled “Ken Jeong Made Me Do It.”

Community’s Ken Jeong is going on a ride with MTV.

The Hangover star has landed a leading role in the youth-skewing cable network’s coming-of-age comedy pilot, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with the project now titled Ken Jeong Made Me Do It.

The comedy entry revolves around 22-year-old Andy, who, after catching his girlfriend cheating, accidentally rear-ends Jeong’s fancy car. Taking pity on Andy, Jeong takes it upon himself to teach him how to man up. Jeong will play himself, with the casting lifting the contingency on the pilot. The pilot will not prevent Jeong from returning to Community, with the MTV entry working around the in-demand actor’s schedule.

Andy St. Clair (Arrested Development) and Paul O’Toole will pen the script and co-executive produce the comedy. Odenkirk Provissiero’s Marc Provissiero will executive produce the project. Jeong and his manager, Brett Carducci, will produce.

The Jeong comedy currently stands as the cabler’s lone half-hour pilot in the works. On the drama side, MTV is prepping Scream and launching dramas Finding Carter and Eye Candy.

For Jeong, the role comes in addition to Community’s recently revived sixth season, which will make the move from NBC to Yahoo Screen next year. Currently filming Ride Along 2, Jeong is repped by CAA, Aligned Entertainment and Stone Meyer.

Ken Jeong Hitches On To Universal’s ‘Ride Along 2′

Posted by | Posted in On The Big Screen | Posted on October 31, 2014

From Deadline.com

Hangover alum Ken Jeong has joined the cast of Universal’s Ride Along 2, joining returning leads Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in the cop comedy sequel to this year’s $153 million hit. Tim Story will direct and Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay are writing the script. Cube and Matt Alvarez will produce for CubeVision alongside Will Packer for Will Packer Productions and Larry Brezner. Jeong recently wrapped The Duff, opposite Mae Whitman and Bella Thorne. He also was recently seen in Pain And Gain and The Muppets, and voiced roles in Universal and Illumination’s Despicable Me 2 and Fox’s Turbo. Jeong is repped by CAA, manager Brett Carducci of Aligned Entertainment and attorney Chad Christopher of Stone, Meyer.

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See also: The bad guy is back! Funnyman Ken Jeong joins Kevin Hart and Ice Cube to film action-packed car scenes for Ride Along 2.

Steve Carell to Produce ‘International Incident’ Movie, Ken Jeong to Star (Exclusive)

Posted by | Posted in On The Big Screen | Posted on October 31, 2014

From The Hollywood Reporter

Former “Daily Show” head writer David Javerbaum sold the pitch to Summit and will pen the screenplay.

Summit Entertainment has bought a pitch titled International Incident from former Daily Show head writer David Javerbaum.

Ken Jeong is attached to star in the comedy, and Steve Carell is in negotiations to produce through his Carousel Productions banner.

The story revolves around five delegates from the United Nations who embark on a road trip to find one of their lost loves. Javerbaum will pen the screenplay.

Carousel creative executives Charlie Hartsock and Vance Degeneres crafted the pitch, attached the talent and are shepherding the project. As a producer, Carell is busy on both the film and TV front. Carousel projects in development include Our Thing, with Max Winkler attached to direct, and Mail-Order Groom (with Tina Fey also producing).

Jeong became an in-demand comedy actor after The Hangover trilogy, but he has never played the lead in a studio film. The doctor-turned-actor voiced two roles in the past year in Turbo and Despicable Me 2, which also features the voice of Carell.

Javerbaum, who is the head writer on NBC’s The Maya Rudolph Show, worked with Carell when they overlapped on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Carell was a correspondent before he became a breakout movie star in The 40-Year-Old Virgin). The two also teamed up when Javerbaum worked on Comedy Central’s 2001 special Steve Carell Salutes Steve Carell.

Javerbaum is repped by CAA, 3 Arts’ David Miner and attorney Ira Schreck and Nancy Rose.

Jeong is handled by CAA, Aligned Entertainment’s Brett Carducci and attorney Chad Christopher.

Carell is represented by WME.